CORK fans of the best Irish music have a rare chance this month to see three of the country’s top performers on stage together.
Fresh from separate tours in the US and Australia, Kerry accordionist and singer Séamus Begley teams up with guitarist Jim Murray for their first local show in several years.
They will be joined at Éire Óg GAA Club in Ovens, just off the main Cork-Macroom road near Ballincollig, by Liam Ó Maonlaí – the Hothouse Flowers front man who has been mixing band and solo performances in recent years.
The gig on Saturday, April 29th, promises a lively night of tunes, songs and stories from three of the country’s most outstanding and versatile musicians. The event is a fundraiser for Independence Museum Kilmurry, reopened since last summer in a new purpose-built facility in the village a mile from Lissarda, and just off the Cork-Macroom road.
Begley and Murray have made two albums since first combining their talents almost two decades ago. But busy schedules mean their appearances have been limited in more recent years. A 2015 show at the Briery Gap theatre in Macroom, near Jim’s native Clondrohid, was the nearest venue they played together as a duo.
“Myself and Séamus first started playing in 1998, and we’ve been playing on and off since then. We’ve been all over the world, to Japan, the US, and across Europe,” says Jim.
“Séamus has done a lot of work with different people. But myself and himself love playing together, we always have a great time on stage.”
The audience can expect to share that craic, as well as enjoying Begley’s usual witty observations in between tunes and songs. Jim promises a rousing mix of polkas, slides and reels, as well as opportunities to hear how Séamus earned the TG4 Gradam Ceoil Singer of the Year accolade in 2013. Jim himself, however, is equally talented and will be singing and playing a few tunes of his own, as well as accompanying his long-time musical partner.
The Co Cork native recently returned from the United States after another tour with Sharon Shannon, the Clare accordion player with whom Begley and Murray first shared a stage together. Séamus Begley spent last month touring Australia with fiddler Dezi Donnelly, so it is very much a back-at-home show, even for the Dingle native.
As the first opportunity in a few years to hear the pair together, tickets are already selling rapidly for those wishing to hear a set that should include tracks from their 2009 album Éirí Go Lá and from Ragairne, the 2001 Hot Press Folk and Trad Album of the Year.
They may also be lucky enough to hear the pair joined by Ó Maonlaí, whose recent shows have included gigs with the Hothouse Flowers, as well as his other partnerships with Ré, and with Kila’s Rónán Ó Snodaigh.
He has shared a stage with Begley and Murray as part of bigger line-ups in the past, but this gig may be a first for all three together, Jim believes.
“We’d have shared the stage a good bit with Liam over the years – playing with Sharon Shannon, for example, he would have joined us. But this is probably the first time we’ve been on the same line-up in this combination.”
The organisers at Kilmurry Historical & Archaeological Association (KHAA) will run a raffle with prizes on offer to include hotel packages, meals, golf outings, hampers and more. Early arrivals can also enjoy entertainment by Newcestown Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
Séamus Begley & Jim Murray, and Liam Ó Maonlaí
Éire Óg GAA Club, Ovens, Co Cork, Saturday, April 29, 8pm